The Chicago 900 Watt Generator from Harbor Freight

A while back I purchased a little 900 watt generator from Harbor Freight. It was on sale for a hundred bucks. I thought I could use it camping. It had a two cycle engine so I thought it could double as a mosquito fogger as well as making power for the campsite.

Chicago 66619 Portable Generator
Chicago 66619 Portable Generator


So when we started building, I got it out of the box to use to power small electric power tools at the  job site.  It does pretty good. It will run a small cutoff saw, drills, skill-saws and the like. It WILL NOT run a small air compressor though.

It ran fine for a week and then the pull rope for the recoil starter started to not engage when starting. Not long afterward, while running, it came to an abrupt halt as in it stopped and the pull rope wouldn’t pull.

Back at the house I removed the recoil starter from the unit and found:

Chicago 66619 Broken Recoil Starter
Chicago 66619 Broken Recoil Starter
Chicago 66619 Broken Recoil Starter
Chicago 66619 Broken Recoil Starter

The starter clutch was made of plastic and broke. You would not think there is much of a price differential between molded plastic and a metal stamping but there must be. The same guy that designed this probably designed the Chevy Ignition Switch.

Well, I found a plethora  of replacements on eBay and I bought two. If I bought one, it would break. If I buy two, it will never break and I will always have a spare.




So apparently a side inlet is not legal on a sanitary T serving a water closet! Who could have known such a thing. Why was the big blue home improvement center even allowed to sell such a felonious device! Now comes the shame of having my family know that I have been caught red handed!


So my penance was to install the APPROVED fitting and so I did. A low heel sweep stacked on top of a combo wye.


Yes, I know they look  similar, but they are not.

The plumbing inspector signed liked what he saw and signed off early Friday morning at 8:10 a.m.   Phase 1 of plumbing is finished in 2 1/2 weeks.  Is that a record?

Out On Workers Comp


Well, I send my apprentice to the store to get a part and she trips on the curb and sprains her ankle. I am almost positive its because she doesn’t like digging and can’t keep up with the Old Timer (me). So she is sitting at home sipping ice tea while I am toiling away.

                                                                                          P1010080            P1010081

You can see the bruise from the sprain all the way around.  I really sprained it!  It’s been hard to walk up and down stairs but after a week it is getting better.  The internet says it can take 4-6 weeks to fully heal!

Back to the Lot:  The question was how are we going to get all the dirt back in the trenches so that we can get the foundation poured?  Warren is too far away – too long of a commute to help us.  Wes is working nights and is catching his z’s during the coolest part of the day.  Who could we find that would be strong and willing to help and would do a great job in exchange for pumpkin empanadas?  We thought and thought and found that person to be our favorite son-in-law.



As you can see Andres drug and pushed the dirt into the trenches and Stan kept the dust down and helped get the dirt packed using the water.  They were finished in record time without wearing the “old folks” out!


This is what $25,000 buys you. Not the lot, just permission to build.


Early Wednesday morning I was relaxing by the pool, drinking my coffee, and feeling really entitled as my FIRST Social Security check had just been deposited in my bank account. Phone rings, and its Oscar, my foundation contractor. He has had a cancellation and he has a crew with nothing to do today.  Can he start my project in an hour? Sure, I said. My retirement lasted 7 minutes.  I went upstairs and woke up Judy who was sound asleep.  We had to get to the lot!


Judy likes to document everything. She made Oscar’s foreman, Rene, nervous by taking pictures of him working.


The company we used to dig the foundation trenches was Hernandez from Orosi.  They were very courteous, hard-working men who took their job very seriously.  Here they are with Stan!


They measured and remeasured and used geometry to make sure the trenches were in the right place on the lot. I will definitely tell my students that you have to use math to dig holes.  P1010012

P1010020  They worked very hard!

Rene, the foreman even discussed the plans with Stan.  They were very conscientious.


The trencher is doing its work.  We are so glad that we had them dig the plumbing lines as well as the foundation lines.

P1010014 At the end of the day, the forms were up and the footings dug, and the “Caution”signs were stretched across the lot.  We started the day with a flat, smooth, hard-packed lot.  Now there are trenches all over the place!


Then Stan insisted we had to go to Visalia to buy sewer pipe tonight. Inside plumbing is important these days.


I think he was just excited to get going tomorrow morning early.  This is what we have been driving around town for the last week.  What a sight we have been!


When Stan talked about doing the plumbing all he told me that it was gluing plastic pipe together.  I couldn’t figure out why he said we would need at least a week to do the plumbing – just to glue plastic pipe together?  IMG_20140719_081929_683

Then the truth came out.  The trenches had to be “cleaned out” and taken down to the depth needed for that particular pipe.


So he put me to work!   He told me I should read the book “Holes” to my students so they could understand.  My outfit is quite a fashion statement – don’t you think?


Stan studied the huge “Lego” pieces envisioning where he would put each piece in the trenches. He also measured and remeasured as he put the pieces together.


Then they were assembled together in the different trenches.  Stan can tell you what part of the house is what just by looking at the plumbing.


Then, after the pipe is in the ground you have to wrap it up with a styrofoam type material so that when the cement is poured it won’t crack the plumbing pipes.  We finally got smart and started wrapping the pipe before gluing it in the trench.


After working for a week plus, this is what it looked like.




We tested the plumbing by putting water in the pipes to see if they leak.  No leaks!!  Yeah!!  So if the inspector signs it off tomorrow, guess what the next step is?  That’s right – filling up the trenches!  More digging…..